« CT-Sen: Lieberman Swamping Lamont in New Q-Poll | Main | NH-02: Fishing Season »

Friday, May 05, 2006

When Losses Yield Wins

Posted by DavidNYC

In a thread below, a staffer for Paul Hodes says that his candidate likes to joke that "the best way to learn how to be a Congressional candidate is to be a Congressional candidate." There's a lot of truth to this statement. Many, many politicians lost their first time out, only to prove successful on the second go-round. Many even lost badly in round one. Here are but a few examples:

• Melissa Bean - crushed by Phil Crane in 2002, beat him in 2004
• Eliot Spitzer - came in fourth in a four-way primary for AG in 1994; won the primary and beat the incumbent in 1998
• Mark Warner - lost a senate race to John Warner in 1996, won the VA-Gov race in 2001
• Brian Schweitzer - lost to Conrad Burns in 2000, won the MT-Gov race in 2004

I'm sure you guys know of other examples. The bottom line is that a losing campaign can be a huge learning experience, and it's a mistake to write someone off just because they lost once.

UPDATE: I'm totally remiss in not including Bill Clinton on this list. If you've got any more good examples, I'll add them in a further update.

Posted at 12:41 PM in Elections | Technorati

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Another reason to have a 50 State Strategy. It gives the farm team needed experience.

Posted by: louise the dog [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 02:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Two more examples that come to mind -- both Diane Feinstein and Mary Landrieu lost bids for governor, and were elected to the Senate the following election cycle.

Posted by: IndianaProgressive [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 03:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry lost his first political race in 1972, but was elected lieutenant governor in 1982.

Posted by: Bromius [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 04:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ted Strickland ran for the House in 1976, 1978 and 1980 and lost all 3 times. He won in 1992, lost in 1994 and came back to win in 1996 and has been there since.

If we are not being partisan, one of the biggest is Richard Nixon who lost the 1960 Pres and 1962 CA Gov elections but came back to win in 1968.

Posted by: John Mills [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 05:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sherrod Brown, another Ohioan, was Secy of State but lost re-election in 1990. He came back to win a House seat in 1992.

Posted by: John Mills [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 05:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

William Jennings Bryan lost in 1896 and then won in 19.... oh wait, I mean he lost in 1896 and 1900 and then won in 190...wait...um....well....uh..He made a damn good secretary of state!

Posted by: nada [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 05:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This is from memory, so feel free to add more!


Dianne Feinstein (already mentioned - lost governor's race in 1990)
Bill Nelson (also lost governor's race in 1990, in the primary)
Dick Lugar (lost Senate race in 1974)
Tom Harkin (lost House race in 1972)
Mary Landrieu (already mentioned - and I had forgotten she ran for governor that time...)
Barbara Mikulski (lost Senate race in 1974)
John Kerry (already mentioned - lost House race in 1972)
Debbie Stabenow (nominee for lt governor in 1994 - I'm not sure if that should count, but...)
Mark Dayton (lost at least one senate race, in 1982 I think?)
Christopher Bond (defeated for re-election as governor in 1976)
Ben Nelson (lost Senate race in 1996)
Jon Ensign (lost Senate race in 1998)
Harry Reid (lost Senate race in 1974)
Pete Domenici (lost governor's race in 1970)
Mike DeWine (lost Senate race in 1992)
George Voinovich (lost senate race in 1988)
Gordon Smith (lost senate race in January 1996, won the state's other seat in November)
Arlen Spector (lost several races in the '60s and '70s, I can't remember them all)
John Thune (lost senate race in 2002)
Maria Cantwell (defeated for re-election to House in 1994)
Jay Rockefeller (lost governor's race in 1972)

Don Young (1972)
Jim Kolbe (1982)
Anna Eshoo (1988)
Darrell Issa (lost senate primary in 1998)
Neil Abercrombie (1986)
Ed Case (lost for governor, 2002)
Leonard Boswell (Dem nominee for lt gov, 1994)
Jim Leach (1974)
Melissa Bean (2002)
Bobby Jindal (lost for governor, 2003)
John Tierney (1994)
Wayne Gilchrest (1988)
Roscoe Bartlett (1982)
Collin Peterson (1982, 1984, 1986, 1988)
John Kline (2000, I think?)
Kenny Hulshof (1994)
Gene Taylor (1988)
Dennis Rehberg (lost for Senate, 1996)
Sue Myrick (lost for Senate, 1992)
David Price (defeated for re-election, 1994)
Christopher Smith (1978)
Frank LoBiondo (1992)
Scott Garrett (primary, 2000 or 2002, I forget which)
Rush Holt (primary, 1996)
Tom Udall (can't recall what, but I'm pretty sure he ran for something before winning his House seat)
Ted Strickland (1976, 1978, 1994 - as an incumbent the last time)
Curt Weldon (1984)
Paul Kanjorski (primary, 1980)
Stephanie Herseth (2002)
Zach Wamp (1992)
Ron Paul (defeated for re-election, 1976)
Henry Cuellar (2002)
Virgil Goode (lost Dem senate primary, 1994)
Bernie Sanders (lost several races in '70s, governor in 1986, House in 1988)
Jay Inslee (defeated for re-election, 1994, won different House seat in 1998)
Doc Hastings (1992)
Brian Baird (1996)
Jim McDermott (lost for governor in 1972, 1980 and 1984)

I left out current reps who ran unsuccessfully for higher office after coming to the House and then won back their old seats (Jane Harman, Bob Inglis, etc.)

Posted by: RamblinDave [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 05:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

RamblinDave - Abercrombie is an interesting case because he won and lost on the same day. He won the special election for the House but lost the primary for a full term.

Posted by: John Mills [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 05:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

True. I've been wondering if Brian Bilbray might join that little club next month!

Posted by: RamblinDave [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 06:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hah, perfect match? John Courage in TX-21. I was just going through a bunch of pictures I loaded to facebook, and came across some of him from 2002 when he was campaigning side by side with Donna Howard, just elected as a State Rep in Austin, but then running for State Board of Education!

Funny politics is.

Posted by: Karl-T [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2006 12:01 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Speaking of facebook, are you on that? I think you mentioned you were in an institution of learning so...

Posted by: Karl-T [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2006 12:03 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In Britain: Tony Blair lost a nomination battle for local council, then an election for a Parliamentary seat, before finally winning election as an MP.

Posted by: thesleepthief [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2006 08:46 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Politicians who lost elections before they won elections
1)David Pryor
lost- 1972 US Senate Race Democratic Primary
won- 1974 Arkansas Governor's Race- then was elected to the US Senate in 1978 served three terms until his retirement in 1996.
2)David's Son Mark
lost- 1994 State Attorney General-Democratic Primary. elected Attorney General in 1998 then was elected to the US Senate in 2002.
3)Bill Clinton-
lost 1974 US House Race. elected Attorney General in 1976. then elected Governor in 1978. lost re-election in 1980. elected Governor again in 1982. served as Governor until 1992- then became a two term President.
4)Jim Guy Tucker
lost 1978 US Senate-Democratic Primary. elected Lt Governor in 1990. became Governor in 1993- When Bill Clinton became President. Served as Governor until his conviction during Whitewater.
5)Mike Huckabee
lost 1992 US Senate Race. elected Lt Governor in 1993 when Jim Guy Tucker was elevated Governor. became Governor in 1996 when Tucker left office.
1)Diane Fienstien- lost 1990 Governors Race- elected US Senate in 1992.
2)Gray Davis- lost 1992 US Senate Race- elected Lt Governor in 1994. later became Governor in 1998 until being recalled in 2003.
3)Jack Garamendi- lost 1994 Governor's Race Democratic Primary- elected CA-Insurance Commisioner in 2002- favored to get elected Lt Governor in 2006.
1)John Larson- lost 1994-Governor(Democratic Primary) elected 1998- US Congress.
1)Bill Nelson- lost 1990- Governor(Democratic Primary) elected 1994 (State Treasurer) elected 2000 (US Senate).
2)Jeb Bush- lost 1994 (Governor) elected 1998 (Governor).
3)Ander Crenshaw- lost 1994(Governor)-Republican Primary - elected 2000(US Congress).
1)Johnny Isakson- lost 1990(Governor). lost 1996(US Senate)-Republican Primary. elected 1999(US Congress). elected 2004(US Senate).
2)Bob Barr- lost 1992(US Senate)-republican Primary. elected 1994(US Congress)- served until his defeat in the Republican Primary in 2002.
3)Jim Marshall- lost 2000(US Congress)- elected 2002(US Congress).
1)Linda Lingle- lost 1998(Governor) elected 2002(Governor)
2)Ed Case- lost 2002(Governor) elected 2003(US Congress).
1)Barack Obama- lost 2000(US Congress)- elected 2004(US Senate)
1)Baron Hill- lost 1990(US Senate) elected 1998(US Congress) lost his seat in 2004- will win it back in 2006.
2)Mike Sodrel- lost 2002(US Congress) elected 2004(US Congress). will lose in 2006.
1)Ben Chandler- lost 2003(Governor)- elected 2004(US Congress).
2)Ernie Fletcher- lost 1996(US Congress)- elected 1998(US Congress)-elected 2003(Governor)
3)Geoff Davis- lost 2002(US Congress)-elected 2004(US Congress).
1)Mary Landrieu- lost 1995(Governor)-Democratic Primary. elected 1996(US Senate)
2)Bobby Jindal- lost 2003(Governor)- elected 2004(US House).
1)Susan Collins- lost 1994(Governor)elected 1996(US Senate)
2)Tom Allen- lost 1994(Governor)-Democratic Primary. elected 1996(US Congress)
1)John Kerry- lost 1972 -US Congress- elected 1984-US Senate.
2)Mitt Romney- lost 1994- US Senate- elected 2002 Governor.
3)James McGovern- lost 1994- US Congress elected 1996 US Congress.
4)John Tierney- lost 1994 US Congress elected 1996 US Congress.
1)Debbie Stabenow- lost 1994(Governor)-Democratic Primary- elected 1996(US Congress). elected 2000(US Senate)
1)MArk Dayton- lost 1982- US Senate. 1998- Governor-Democratic Primary. elected 2000-US Senate.
2)Norm Coleman- lost 1998- Governor- elected 2002- US Senate.
1)Haley Barbour- lost 1982-(US Senate). elected 2003(Governor)
1)Jim Talent- lost 2000(Governor)- elected 2002(US Senate).
1)Dennis Rehberg- lost 1996(US Senate) elected 2000(US Congress).
1)Ben Nelson- lost 1996(US Senate) elected 2000(US Senate)
1)Harry Reid- lost 1974(US Senate) elected 1976(US House)- elected 1986(US Senate).
2)John Ensign- lost 1998(US Senate) elected 2000(US Senate).
3)Shelley Berkley- lost 1996(US House) elected 1998(US House)
4)Jim Gibbons- lost 1994(Governor)elected 1996(US Congress)
5)Jon Porter- lost 2000(US Congress).elected 2002(US Congress)
New Jersey
1)Christine Todd Whitman- lost 1990(US Senate)-elected 1993(Governor)
2)Jim Florio- lost 1981(Governor) elected 1989(Governor)until his loss in 1993.
3)Jim McGreevey- lost 1997(Governor) elected 2001(Governor)-served until his resignation
4)Mike Ferguson- lost 1998(US Congress) elected 2000(US Congress).
New Mexico
1)Bill Richardson- lost 1980(US Congress)-elected 1982(US Congress)
2)Steven Pearce- lost 2000(US Senate)-elected 2002(US Congress)
3)Bill Redmond- lost 1996(US Congress) elected 1997(US Congress) lost re-election in 1998.
North Carolina
1)David Price- lost 1994-(US Congress) re-elected in 1996(US Congress)
2)Jim Hunt- lost 1984(US Senate) elected 1992(Governor)
3)Mike Easley- lost 1990(US Senate)-Democratic Primary. elected 1992(Attorney General)-elected 2000(Governor)
4)Robin Hayes lost 1996(Governor) elected 1998(US Congress)
5)Sue Myrick- lost 1992(US Senate)-Republican Primary- elected 1994(US Congress).
1)Howard Metzenbaum- lost 1970(US Senate)race and 1974(US Senate)-elected 1976(US Senate).
2)Mike DeWine- lost 1992(US Senate)elected 1994(US Senate).
3)George Voinovich- lost 1988(US Senate)- elected 1990(Governor)elected 1998(US Senate)
4)Ted Strickland- lost 1994(US Congess)-elected 1996(US Congress).
5)Sherrod Brown- lost 1990(Secretary of State)-elected 1992(US Congress).
1)Ted Kulongoski- Lost 1980-(US Senate).Lost 1982(Governor).
2)Gordon Smith- lost 1996(US Senate)
1)Ed Rendell- lost 1986(Governor)-Democratic Primary.
South Dakota
1)John Thune- lost 2002(US Senate) elected 2004(US Senate)
2)Stephanie Herseth lost 2002(US Congress) elected 2004(US Congress)
1)Phil Bredesen- lost 1994(Governor)-elected 2002(Governor)
1)Jim Douglas- lost 1992(US Senate)
1)Maria Cantwell- lost 1994(US Congress)-elected 2000(US Senate)
2)Jay Inslee- lost 1994(US Congress)-elected 1998(US Congress).

Posted by: mrcharlesmburns [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2006 11:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

1)Russ Feingold - .... oh wait, he has never lost!

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2006 08:20 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

George Bush lost a race for Congress back when he "was" young & irresponsible -- the lost decade of the 1970s....

Posted by: Jeff Hauser [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 7, 2006 08:06 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Rendell lost the 1986 gubernatorial primary to Bob Casey Sr. and the 1987 Philadelphia mayoral primary to W. Wilson Goode Sr.

Arlen Specter lost the 1967 mayor's race, served as DA, then failed in two bids for governor and one US Senate primary (to John Heinz) before finally winning in 1980.

Posted by: Adam B [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 8, 2006 02:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment